Ruth & Erica is a Youtube series on aging

If you have aging parents you aren’t alone. Not even close.
There are so many of us out there who are at all different stages of dealing with aging parents.

These short scripted dramas, are exceptionally well produced and have big name hollywood stars dealing with the issues that we all face as our mom and dad get older.
And it’s not all fluff – Not at all.

These are all topics we are going to deal with in life, sooner or later. I think it is helpful to see how others handle them to give me an idea on what to do. These are an honest way to get some useful and practical strategies in coping with older parents.

You can watch the first video here, and I encourage you to subscribe to the rest on Youtube. I did.

You CAN take it with you

What Conveys when you sell your house?


Antique Glass Doorknob
Antique Glass Doorknob

My in-laws used to live in this cute little house.  I know because I would visit it all the time to go see my girlfriend at the time (who is now my wife).  It was a little 2-bedroom that had tons of charm.  Of course it didn’t start like that when they bought it.  And yesterday I learned something super important that I do with all my clients that not all agents do with theirs.

This all happened before I was a realtor, so all I can do is re-tell the story as it was told to me.

My in-laws were looking to buy their first home.  A starter place within their budget, or even a little lower so they would have a little extra money each month to still have some fun.

After looking for a little while, they found this cute little place.  It needed a lot of work, but had some great bones.  Slowly they began to fix it up.  Painting the living room.  Getting the hardwood floors redone, putting up custom decorator touches here and there, and everywhere.  You know all the little touches that make a regular house personalized.

After a year or so it was absolutely incredible.  There were so many personal touches, the little house was a home.  Then, after a few years, they wanted to move, and did, into a similar fixer-upper on the other side of town.

Fast forward to yesterday.  I was showing my MIL (Mother-in-Law) one of my professionally printed, 30+ page, personalized Comparable market analysis (CMA) for one of my listing appointments.

I have lots of great information for home-sellers in it:

  • How I use the internet better than any other agent to sell your house
  • Some data on the curent Austin Real Estate Market conditions
  • Tips for showing your home
  • Other houses that are for sale in your neighborhood
  • Statistics on houses that have recently sold around yours
And a whole bunch of other stuff about accurate home pricing, the dangers of overpricing, and what I do to get your house sold fast.
Stained Glass Window
Stained Glass Window

She saw the page I have about what conveys when you sell your home.

Specifically she asked me if she could have taken her stained glass window they had installed in the breakfast room.  She told me she loved that window.  They found it in the back of the garage when they bought the house, and it was in bad shape.  But after a little bit of repair, and some fixing of the lead and a few pieces of glass it was as good as new, and fit perfectly into just the right spot.

I told her YES!  you could have taken it with you when you moved.  Then she asked about the antique glass doorknobs, and the chandelier above the dining room table.  YES!, and YES!

She never knew that she could have done those things.  I frequently remind people that the house is theirs, and they can do whatever they want with it, but I always caution them to do it BEFORE they list is so nothing comes up to be a problem later.

As always, there are some things you need to be careful of, and here are my tips to prevent any problems between you and your seller.

Simply remove anything you want to take with you before you list the house.

I always ask my clients if they want to take anything with them from the house when they move.  In the case of the stained glass window, or doorknobs you can take them out, but should replace them with something so you can’t tell that they were changed out.  Do this BEFORE anyone ever comes to an open house, or a showing.

Small Chandelier over table
Small Chandelier over table

I’ve learned if a buyer sees it when they do a tour, they are going to want it when they move in.  And that can be quite a sticky point if they saw it, and then you took it out when you moved.  In Texas, if it is contested, the seller generally has to make good, and offer cash or even replace the item.

There are a few exceptions – and they usually are big ticket appliances like refrigerators and washers and dryers.  These aren’t bolted to the wall like an oven or dishwasher, and most often the home seller takes them with when they move out.

In order to prevent any confusion, the best way to handle what conveys or not when you sell your house (if you don’t remove it before listing) is to put it in the sales contract.  Simply telling your Realtor, or putting a note on it isn’t enough.

Of course if you have any questions, please let me know in the comments below!

Where are all the new 2 Bedroom Homes?

Why are 2-bedroom homes so hard to find?

2 bedroom house
New construction 2-bedroom house

I was talking with one of my clients (let’s call her Miss N.) yesterday and one of the questions I always ask is “tell me about your dream home”. I always get a different answer, and I’ve learned that it actually changes over time, based on where they are on their life’s journey. (more…)

What is Assisted Living

An assisted living facility is just one of many different options available to provide a little bit more care for your aging parent.

sharing memories

I don’t know about you, but I don’t live in the same town as my parents.  In fact, we all don’t even live in the town where we grew up.  I was raised in Salinas, and my wife and I moved to Austin, TX in the early 2000’s.  My parent’s relocated to Arizona, and my brother stayed in Northern California with his family.  We get together several times a year for holidays and to show off the grandkids on summer vacation, but mostly we have our own lives in our new hometowns.

We still stay in touch.  It’s great to use video chat, or facebook, or even the plain old telephone. It’s great showing off the latest school project, or performing an impromptu piano recital, but it’s not the same as being there.

When I do visit,  I notice that my folks are getting older – it’s nothing big, but just a few little things that once were easy, and now are taking a little longer for them to do.  There are other signs my parents are getting older – the TV is a lot louder than it used to be, they aren’t picking up the phone as fast as they once were (I think they don’t hear it, or it takes them longer to get to it), and I notice the garbage isn’t always taken out on a regular schedule.

All these things  get me thinking about what’s next.  For us, it will be an assisted living facility.  I don’t want to uproot them and bring them to Austin to live near or with us.  They have a great group of friends, and they are still very active in the community.  They aren’t sick, and don’t have to visit the doctor all the time.  But they also don’t need a 5 bedroom house anymore.  It’s a lot of work to keep up a house that big.  I’ve thought about moving them into a smaller home, but we have talked about this and they realize that they won’t be there that long anyway, so why not skip that step and just go into assisted living.

One of the great benefits of assisted living facilities is you maintain your independence.  My parents are healthy, they just need a little extra help, and since I’m 14 hours away by car, I’m not always right there when they need it.  Depending on the location, some facilities are completely independent   They will have their own place, separate from others, with a little kitchen, living room, bathroom, bedroom, and extra space.  I will feel better knowing that assistance is available immediately to them, for whatever they need.

There are groups that go shopping together.  Tons of activities for them to do all day long – book clubs, exercise groups, cards, and even date nights where they can watch a movie in the common room.  If they don’t feel like cooking, they can eat in the communal dining room, and there is even a private dining facility that can be reserved if they want to hold a little party.  Cleaning and laundry is handled by the facility, and I feel good knowing that a professional will keep things tidy.

My parents can decorate and paint their place any way they want, and there is 24-hour security to ensure their belongings stay safe.

Assisted living is more expensive than living alone at home, but it is MUCH less than a nursing home or medical facility.  I have peace of mind that there are always people around them I can trust (and call to check up on them with), and know that they are much less likely to get injured because the home has been built with older people in mind.  Grab Bars in the bathroom, rounded countertop edges, easy rise steps, and other adjustments that are barely noticeable  but make life easier for the older generations.

It is a big change, but not unexpected.  We have been talking about this for a while, and my parents know they are getting older.  But we have found a place where a few of their friends have moved to, and that helps make things easier for everyone.

If you have questions about Assisted living facilities in Austin please let me know.  I specialize in helping families downsize – making the transition from larger homes, to smaller ones, or even into Assisted Living homes.

How to choose the right assisted living facility

Assisting Seniors
As our parents get older, they may need more and more help.

Are you noticing its getting harder to do everyday activities? Is it taking longer to accomplish the tasks that used to come so easily to you? This may be such things as getting dressed, doing errands around the house, or preparing meals.

If this is the case, you may want to consider moving to an assisted living facility.  There are dozens of different care facilities in Austin, and they offer differing levels of service depending on your particular situation.

What is an assisted living facility?

An assisted living facility is a residential option that offers personalized support and health care assistance (both scheduled and unscheduled) – to those who need help with activities of daily living.

This may include getting dressed, going to the bathroom in the middle of the night, cooking meals, keeping house, and traveling to appointments.  It can also include making sure medications are taken on time.

An assisted living facility is usually a good choice if t you don’t need the round-the-clock medical care and supervision of a nursing home, but still need more help than usual at differing hours of the day.

Privacy and independence are encouraged at assisted living facilities.  They offer round the clock access to help, if needed.  24-hours a day, assistance is available.

Other names for assisted living facilities:

  • Adult care home
  • Board and care
  • Congregate care
  • Adult group home
  • Alternative care facility
  • Sheltered housing
  • Old Age Home
  • Residential care
Sample assisted living facility
Sample assisted living facility

What does an assisted living residence look like?

Although an assisted living residence can be a high-rise complex, or multi-story building, most in Austin are single story buildings.  Even if they are multiple stories, there are elevators for easy access.

Units are usually similar to hotel rooms, or small apartments with a living area, kitchenette, bathroom, and bedroom.  They are designed with the needs of their residents with wider doorways, easy entry showers, low pile carpet, and other special features like emergency call features.

Rooms are usually private, unless you want to save a bit of money and have a roommate.

Is an assisted living facility right for you?

Here are some common questions to ask yourself.  If you answer yes to more than a few, you might want to consider moving to an assisted living facility.

Do you feel like a burden to your family and friends?

Do you feel alone or isolated when you are at home?

Do you or your family worry about your safety?

Is it becoming difficult to keep your house the way you used to?

Are you having trouble driving, or getting around?


If you have answered yes to any of these questions, you may want to begin to think about assisted living. All of these topics can be easily addressed by most facilities.

Making the decision to leave home?

Making the decision to move
Making the decision to move

I’ve worked with a lot of people as they choose to downsize.  Oftentimes one of the biggest feelings is the loss of independence or freedom.  Leaving a home that you have been in for years, one that is full of personal things, and memories can make someone feel the same as if someone died.  Be available for your parent or loved one,  listen to them, and be re-assuring.

Give them plenty of time to get used to the decision.  This allows them to come to terms with their new living situation, and allows them the freedom and control to pack what they need.

Visit the facility.  Have lunch or dinner there.  Show them their new room.  It is much less stressful if you know what to expect, and there aren’t any surprises.

Stay busy – not just with packing, but also becoming involved at the facility in daily activities.  Attend some of the daily events at the assisted living

Go easy on yourself – We all react to change differently.  Give yourself time to adapt.  Also, don’t be afraid to talk to people.  You are giving up one community for another.  Become involved and meet others.  It really helps make you feel better.

Choosing the right assisted living facility for you.

Every assisted facility is different.  Take your time and choose a place that fits you and you lifestyle.  It may seem like there are a lot of choices, and it can be a lot of work, remember that this will be your new home.

elderly hands opening pill bottleI find it helps to make a list of what features you are looking for, and then rate each facility on your list.

Also look beyond the basic amenities, and look more at the staff and other residents.  I love places with warm and friendly staff who cares, and residents who are outgoing and friendly.  It makes it feel more like home to me, and I feel more included.

Make sure this is a place where you will feel included, and that you get along with the staff and other residents.  You will develop new relationships there, and at the right place it will be easier than you think.

Things to look for in the staff:

  • How do they interact with the residents and staff?  Are they kind and helpful?
  • Do they appear interested in you?
  • Do they greet you or take time to chat?
  • Do they look rushed in the tasks they are doing?
  • How do they handle emergencies that come up?

Things to look for in the residents:

  •  Are they interacting with each other?
  • Do they look happy?
  • Do you think they are the kind of people you would like to know?
  • Are there group activities, hobbies, or classes you would like to take?

Things to consider when selecting a facility

There are, of course, lots of things to consider when looking for an assisted living facility.  Basically it can be simplified into two categories – the physical place, and the people.  To me, the physical place must be clean, and somewhat nice, but the best isn’t always the one with the fanciest finishes, gourmet meals, or fancy landscaped grounds.  Look for a balance, one where the staff is friendly, the residents are happy, and you feel safe, and comfortable.  A place where you feel at home.

One other very important part is that the assisted living facility follows and obeys all local and state regulations.  Make sure they are licensed with the state, and don’t forget to check with the Better Business Bureau.

Paying for assisted living

paying for assisted livingDepending on the type of assisted living facility you choose, the costs can range from $800 – $4,000+ a month.  Usually, these costs are covered by the resident or the family.  It is important to consider all the costs and develop a budget to cover all of the costs.

Currently Medicare doesn’t cover the costs associated with assisted living.  In some limited cases there are some benefits available, but to understand all the implications I advise you contact a financial planner who specializes in eldercare.

Oftentimes, a family will sell the home that the elderly patient was living in to cover the costs of assisted living.  If this is something you are interested in please contact me, as I specialize in helping seniors downsize.

Be sure to weigh the costs of what you are paying for vs what you are getting.  Sometimes the more expensive the facility doesn’t always mean better.

Also, be sure you understand how the facility bills.  Is it every month?  Quarter?  Is the assisted living facility all inclusive, or does it bill for extra services.  If something medical is needed, how is that covered?


Did you find this article helpful, leave me a comment below, and let me know!

Signs your parent may need an assisted living facility

Learning that your parent or loved one may need daily assistance isn’t easy. Here are a few warning sighs that you should look out for. If you see any of these things happening, you may want to consider moving them to an assisted living facility:

The house or yard isn’t as clean and neat as it used to be. This indicates that everyday chores and cleaning is getting harder for them to do on a regular basis.

Are they wearing the same clothes over and over?  This can be a sign that doing laundry is becoming difficult.  It can also be an indicator that they are having a hard time showering or bathing.

Are they hiding bruises, or not telling you about “minor” injuries?  These may be caused from falls at night, or other balance or mobility issues.

Are there a few more little dents on their car?  Are they bumping into things in the garage, or in parking lots?

The refrigerator is empty or filled with spoiled food or your parent is losing weight. These may be signs that he or she isn’t eating well because shopping or cooking is difficult.

The house and yard isn’t as clean and tidy as it used to be. This can mean that it is becoming harder and harder to keep up with daily chores.

Here are some more significant warning signs that should be addressed:

Your parent forgets things, including doctor’s appointments and when to take medication. This may be due to memory loss.

Your parent seems depressed. Depression is common in seniors who are isolated and alone.

You notice strange or inappropriate behavior. For example, your parent may dress inappropriately for the weather. This can be a sign that he or she is experiencing confusion.

If you notice even just a few of these senior warning signs, it may be time to consider moving into an assisted living facility.

August 2012 Austin Real Estate Statistics


Fifteen straight months that Austin has seen an increase in sales volume.  Central Texas is Growing, and looks to continue to grow as more than 100 people move to our area every day.


Houses are selling 29% faster this month than they did at this same time last year.

Leonard Guerro (A JB Goodwin Agent, and president of the Austin Board of Realtors) said:

Strong demand for homes continued in August while the inventory of available homes continued to shrink. That contributed to the increase in price. In fact, this was the highest median price we’ve seen in the month of August in the last decade in Austin

Here’s the monthly real estate stats, in an easy to read infographic form.  What do you think of the Austin Market? Leave us a comment.

the Sycamore Townhomes

It can be hard to find places in the heart of South Austin with everything you want in a home.  Private gated community – Yes.  Energy efficient.  Yep.  9 foot ceilings – at least.  Soaker Tubs, polished concrete floors, stainless appliances.  It goes on an on and on.

I see these units come on the market every so often, and when I do, I jump on them because they don’t last.  Everybody loves living here. (more…)

The South 5th condos

Situated in the popular Bouldin Creek area the South 5th Condos are 45% more energy efficient than the average house in Austin.  With 12” thick walls, solar panels on top and double insulated glass, these modern units will save you money. There are rooftop terraces with views, Gourmet kitchens with 36” Paykel Gas stoves, under-counter wine coolers, and all the usual modern amenities you would expect from a cutting edge condo community.


The Sage Condos in Austin

The Sage Condos combine great urban design with the elegance of a traditional brownstone.  There are large kitchens, lots of natural light, and all the extras – granite countertops, glass enclosed showers, hardwood floors, and even metal tiles on the backsplash in the kitchen. (more…)